The Great Erzya
There is another great contemporary of Andrei Platonov in the program of the Platonov Festival.
Stepan Nefedov (Erzya) (1876–1959) is a Russian and Soviet painter and sculptor. The pseudonym reflects his belonging to the Erzya ethnic group as part of the Mordovian people.
His studying in a parish school of Altyshevo village, working in the artels of icon painters Alatyr and Kazan, studying at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1901–1907, workshop of Sergey Volnukhin) became the first milestones in the path of art education of the future master.
In 1907 Stepan Nefedov went to Italy to improve his skills and study the masterpieces of the world art. The years that he spent in Italy, having later moved to France, were an early period of creativity, marked by serious plastic and psychological searches and thematic diversity.
In 1914 Stepan Erzya returned to Russia. He started actively working on the implementation of the Leninist plan of monumental propaganda after the October Revolution of 1917. Having lived in Yekaterinburg, Novorossiysk, Batumi and Baku, he created monuments to hard-working people and revolution fighters, marble, wood and cement portraits of literary and art figures. He also managed to dedicate some time to teaching.
In 1926 Stepan Erzya, a full member of the "Russian Sculptors’ Society", was on a mission from the People's Commissariat for Education. He was sent to France with an exhibition of his works. Afterwards he travelled to Argentina, where he lived and worked from 1927 to 1950. The main material that the master used in his work was the South American tree species of kebracho and algarrobo. Many different series stands out among the works created during this period, such as historical portraits, mythological images, works that reveal the inner world of a person (“Psychological Suite”), images of people of his motherland. The international spirit of the sculptor’s creativity was especially clearly revealed in the gallery of poetic female images.
In 1950 the sculptor returned to his homeland, allowing the Soviet people to enjoy his best works. In 1954 his personal exhibition, which had a huge success, was organized in Moscow.
Spiritual creativity, deep psychologism, poeticism of images and original plasticity put Stepan Erzya on a par with other outstanding sculptors of the twentieth century.
His works are now kept in the State Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, in other museums and private collections in Russia and abroad - in Argentina, Britain, France, Italy and many other countries.
There are more than 200 works of Stepan Erzya in the collection of the Mordovian Republican Museum of Fine Arts named after the sculptor.